SERMON FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN LENT, 2-21-2016
Deserving the Crumb
Vicar Brad Akey


In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


In the context, the Pharisees had just attempted to trap Jesus again. They accuse His disciples of breaking the traditions of the elders, by not washing their hands before they eat. With all the issues that mankind has, all of the shortcomings, all of the sin against God, this insignificant, man-made tradition is what the Pharisees try to fault Jesus for?


Christ calls them hypocrites. He says, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. Following this, Jesus comes across the Canaanite woman. And from the mouth of someone who would normally be regarded as unclean comes evidence of true inner purity.


The Canaanite woman was from a race of historical enemies of God. Israel was told to wipe them out. You shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God (Deut. 20:17-18). But here rather than leading the chosen people astray, as one would expect, she is a woman of great faith.

SERMON FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN LENT, 2-21-2016
Deserving the Crumb
Vicar Brad Akey


In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


In the context, the Pharisees had just attempted to trap Jesus again. They accuse His disciples of breaking the traditions of the elders, by not washing their hands before they eat. With all the issues that mankind has, all of the shortcomings, all of the sin against God, this insignificant, man-made tradition is what the Pharisees try to fault Jesus for?


Christ calls them hypocrites. He says, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. Following this, Jesus comes across the Canaanite woman. And from the mouth of someone who would normally be regarded as unclean comes evidence of true inner purity.


The Canaanite woman was from a race of historical enemies of God. Israel was told to wipe them out. You shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God (Deut. 20:17-18). But here rather than leading the chosen people astray, as one would expect, she is a woman of great faith.


Three times she cries out, Kyrie - Lord! This is not just a simple sir, but she acknowledges Jesus as the Son of David. This is a way in which the disciples would normally address their Lord. That word Kyrie is a word that comes from faith or at least a profession of faith. Not only does she acknowledge Him as to who He truly is, she says, “Have mercy on me,” the traditional cry of the beggar. She notes His place and also her place in that one phrase.


Yet despite her calling out, He did not answer her a word. We know that He heard her, for His disciples say, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” Even after His disciples come begging, He merely answers their statement. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel!” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” She remained persistent.


The Canaanite woman was not of the view that her Lord does not hear her, nor that she can do something enough to deserve His help. Her prayers and begging shows the humility that is within her. She is making a fool of herself before everyone present. But that is not what matters to her. She offers up her prayers despite being in public, despite being ridiculed, not initially answered, and tested. While others dismiss her or patronize her, none of that matters, it is not her chief concern! Publically, she declares her faith in this man!


It is interesting to note that, Christ was the source of her humiliation. Just as the cause of the believer’s difficulty is Jesus. We don’t like to hear that. We want to be just like Peter, quick to deny such an accusation. We want to say that Christ is not, cannot, be our humiliation, rather He is our glorification. And you would not be wrong in your statement regarding the glory that comes with Christ.


However, Christ also tells us blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matt 5:11). By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians confess Christ as Lord, that same Christ for whose sake they are persecuted. Just as the Canaanite woman acknowledges who she is, what she is, and seeks the Lord that much more earnestly, so the Holy Spirit leads the baptized today!


We do not bring ourselves closer to the Lord when we deny who we are, that we are sinners. Rather we drive ourselves away from the one who can provide for us. It is the Holy Spirit who shows us who we are, what we are. We are sinners. Yet the Spirit leads us, just as the Canaanite woman, not to what we think we can do, but rather to that which we cannot do. By His power we may cry out Eleison me Kyrie, have mercy on me O Lord! We have been brought to the understanding that we can rely on nothing other than the Lord’s mercy. We have hope in that which only Christ could do for us.


But many reject this gracious gift. Many view their hearts as pure, uncorrupted by sin. When the heart is focused upon oneself, it leaves no room for the Spirit, for God. And these individuals, just as the Pharisees try to trap Jesus. They try to give reasons why Christians don’t deserve to be called a Christian, how Christians fall short. And in this they are correct. Yet Christ died for that very reason. He offers Himself to us, just as He offered Himself over into death’s grasp. And The Lord welcomes us to the kingdom, earned by His blood, no longer as a Gentile, but as a child of God, holy and in perfect union with God.


As a Gentile the Canaanite woman recognizes that she does not deserve the Lord’s acknowledgement, yet she banks and places all of her hopes upon the Kyrie’s—the Lord’s—mercy. Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table. This crumb, she believes, is enough to save. Luther said, “Thus she catches Christ with His own words, and He is happy to be caught. ‘Very well,’ she says… I am not a child nor am I of Abraham’s seed, but you are a rich Lord and set a lavish table. Give Your children the bread and a place at the table… let me merely like a dog, pick up the crumbs under the table… I will be content therewith. So she catches Christ, the Lord, in His own words and with that wins not only the right of a dog, but also that of the children.” This is what Jesus intends and most deeply desires!

 

Despite others wanting to drive her away, she - has - faith. Faith that God is good, faith that this is her Savior, faith that will free her daughter and herself. God is so powerful, so majestic, that even this tiny morsel in his eyes, just a speck, is enough to drastically change the entire life of this woman. That is the greatness she sees in Jesus. This is the greatness that Christ speaks of when He says, “O woman, great is your faith!” This faith is praised by Christ for it is the good gift and the foundation of all virtues.


How much more has Kyrie given to us? The Canaanite woman was satisfied with a crumb from the master’s table, and at this table, the Lord personally invites us. And there He gives us so much more than a crumb. He simultaneously gives us bread and His own body, wine and His own blood. We do not deserve a crumb, let alone a feast, yet we receive it. The Lord has given us His promises! To all nations, you, me, it doesn’t matter, all people have been given the invitation to receive His gifts in faith.


He does all of this for mankind’s benefit. Think of the woman and her child – mercy as they have never known. The child cleansed from the demon and the mother saved from the pain of seeing her child suffer. Think of the disciples, who learn how the love and mercy of God is for all people, even the Gentiles. Think of how Christ daily and richly shows mercy to you, purified you in your Baptism, in the Sacrament of the Altar, in Confession and Absolution. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ now looks at each one of you and says, great is your faith! Salvation is yours! Be it done for you as you desire! Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a